A Brief Analysis of "Women Hollering Creek" by Sandra Cisneros

An analysis of a short story from Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros’ “Women Hollering Creek” is the story of a woman who marries a Mexican man living in America. In the first chapter, Clerofilas lives with her father and brothers. As there are not many things to do in Mexico rather than watching soap operas, she wants to pass the other side of the border ambitiously to live the American Dream. Thus, the main character marries a Mexican man living in Texas and leaves her family in Mexico. However, things are not the way she expects as Clerofilas finds out that her husband is an alcoholic using violence against her. Also, the protagonist realizes that Texas is no different than the village she has lived in once. Nevertheless, Clerofilas does not want to accept reality for a long time as she is brainwashed by the telenovelas making her believe that love needs to be passionate and sorrowful at the same time.

The protagonist is so into soap operas that the narrator forms the story like the episodes of a telenovela to imply how Clerofilas is under the influence of those soap operas. Until she develops awareness about gender roles, the narrator does not give a voice to Clerofilas. Thinking that women do housework and look after children while men are earning money, the main character does not believe that there is another alternative. Respectively meaning solitude and pain, Soledad and Dolores who loses her sons and husband are the neighbors of Clerofilas.

Apart from her neighbors, she thinks that there is only one alternative for the women, which is becoming a prostitute because Soledad’s husband probably runs away with a prostitute seducing him. The protagonist thinks that there is no way out as violence is almost legitimized in Texas. For instance, she gives an example about a man who makes a joke while telling that he has slain his wife. Thus, Clerofilas is afraid of her husband and feels confined. Symbolically, she can go to death reflected through the Women Hollering Creek, a creek that reflects the myth about a woman drowning her children and herself.

Creating a telenovela impression, the story is not linear and chronological but it is written like episodes. For instance, Clerofilas marries her husband and in the next chapter, she instantly becomes a mother without giving any detail. The main character uses poetic language while mentioning Mexico and her family. She is positive and remembers those times with longing. However, Clerofilas feeling detached makes tough and painful sentences while talking about her husband and life in Texas. Creating form and content relations, the narrator conveys the idea that soap operas confine and manipulate women as well as men about their gender roles.

The story is prose but flows like a poem. In this way, the narrator likens the story to a border. On one side, there is modern America but on the other side, there is Mexico in which people suffer from poverty. Through the end of the story, Clerofilas’ consciousness raises as she meets with Graciela and Felice, who work and stand on their own feet. They have symbolic names like the neighbors of the main character, Graciela means grace and Felice means happiness. Unlike the protagonist, they are given a voice by the narrator as they do not need men to live on. In the end, the creek's name gains another meaning for Clerofilas. While passing the "hollering" creek, Felice screams as she is happy and feels free. The main character, on the other hand, is bewildered since Felice is independent and drives a pick-up, mostly used by men. Clerofilas thinking that Telenovellas do not have a woman like Felice eventually understand that there are other alternatives for women and Felice becomes her idol. Returning to her family in Mexico, Clerofilas becomes a storyteller in the end Thus, she is symbolically given voice by the narrator and makes her brothers and father conscious about gender roles. Also, Clerofilas will probably raise her children with this awareness.